Iowa is moving toward becoming the latest state to legalize sports betting, with a bill advancing out of a key State Senate committee Thursday. The bill is likely to go before the entire chamber for a vote this week.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed bill SF 366 that would authorize licensed riverboat casinos and racetracks to accept bets on sporting events. The committee’s vote to pass followed a subcommittee voting 2-0-1 to recommend the bill move forward to a full Senate vote.
If the measure goes before the entire Senate and passes, SF 366 would then move to the House, which will likely pass a similar bill of its own around that same time. Then both chambers would have to resolve any differences between the two measures before the General Assembly could vote on it.
The General Assembly seems likely to reconcile any differences between the two bills and vote to pass the final bill on to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is expected to sign it into law. Both the House and Senate are also Republican controlled.
If the legislative process moves as expected, the bill has a reasonable chance to pass the General Assembly before the 2019 session ends in May.
Legalized sports betting would not instantaneously begin in Iowa. The state would still need to implement regulatory measures. Plus the state racing commission, which will oversee sports betting if legalized, cannot offer licenses until July at the earliest under the current law.
Even in a best-case scenario, Iowa sportsbooks could not began accepting wagers until fall, or perhaps sometime in 2020.
Sports betting is currently legal in eight states: Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
Nevada had long been the only state to offer legal wagering on sports, though that changed last May when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
One facet of the bills making their way through Iowa’s legislative bodies is that, unlike a lot of states with legal sports betting, they would allow online wagers via third-party mobile platforms, such as DraftKings or FanDuel. Nevada and New Jersey are the only states to offer the option for bettors to wager online.
That feature has helped propel New Jersey to rival Nevada in revenue generated via legal sports betting – in part because more than 80 percent of the total amount wagered in New Jersey is generated via mobile. Pennsylvania is expected to launch its mobile platform some time in 2019.
Iowa is regarded as one of the most progressive gaming states in the country. It legalized pari-mutuel betting on horse racing in 1983, and eight years late became the first state to have riverboat casinos.
That reputation would be furthered buoyed by Iowa becoming the first Midwest state to legalize sports betting. Lawmakers in neighboring Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota have introduced sports betting bills, but none are as far along as the legislative process as Iowa.